This was by far the most spontanious trip to London I have done in my life. But there was no way I was going to miss this very special show. On September the 27th Michael Conway made his debut performance as Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys, something I had been looking forward to ever since he became a cover for that part.
So this review is all about Michael just as this show was all about him. I do want to give a side note to Ben Wheeler at the start as this was the very first time I have seen him play Hank Majewski. For some reason I don’t think he really looks the part but he did well and I’m glad I got the chance to see him. That wig though – seriously, is it ment to not suit anyone?!
But on with the man of the day. Having missed Michael’s shows as Bob Gaudio last year I had never heard him sing solo so far (apart from those few lines as Barry in the show but that really doesn’t count). So one could say I was excited to see and hear him play Frankie – or I’d rather say I was a nervous wreck. Thumbs up for Michael who didn’t appear edgy at all before the show but was really looking forward to going on stage. Makes me think I might have been more nervous than him and all I had to do was sit in my seat and watch while he had to go out on stage and play this major part in one of the most popular shows in the West End.And what can I say? The guy nailed the part! Seriously, from the moment he appeared on stage I knew I was witnessing something special. Michael had the looks and wow, he definitely had the voice!! I was expecting him to be a good singer but I was absolutely blown away by his amazing and crystal clear vocals. He seemed to reach the high notes with ease and I loved how powerful his voice sounded in the solo numbers (“Can’t take my eyes of you” was completely breathtaking).
Acting wise I thought his young Frankie was a bit better than the older Frankie. I usually have a preference when it comes to that no matter who I am seeing as Frankie Valli (I prefer Ryan Molloy’s older Frankie for example but think Tom Oakley’s younger Frankie is more believable). It’s quite tricky to portray the aging of Frankie throughout the show just by acting, after all the performer obviously doesn’t age visible. Still the audience has to believe they are seeing a 15 year old boy in the beginning and a grown man in the end. Michael’s young Frankie was slightly more believable which was mostly down to his looks (being 25 and all ;). Having said that I have never seen a Frankie look so absolutely devastated after being told that his daughter has died – Ryan might be the only Frankie who really cries in that scene but Michael looked like he was about to completely fall apart which had an even bigger impact on me.One of the most important things in the show for me is the chemistry between the 4 leads. It was fantastic to see that Michael fit in there perfectly. You would never have guessed this was his first time live on stage with the other 3 guys. Him and Matt worked exceptionelly well together – such an awesome Frankie and Bob team.
I generally loved how lively and full of energy Michael’s Frankie was. Part of this could be down to the pure excitement of finally playing the part but I think it fit the role perfectly.
Yes, there were some slight glitches but if you hadn’t known the show you probably wouldn’t even have noticed. Ok, apart from the microphone incident during “Walk like a man” which was rather funny (I’m sure Michael and the rest of the guys will agree).
I can hardly imagine how difficult it must be to play such a demanding part – you’re on stage and in the focus almost constantly throughout the whole show. That in mind I was even more impressed how naturally Michael went up there to deliver a stunning performance. I’m sure with some more shows to settle into the part he could be one of the best Frankie Vallis the show has seen so far. Thumbs up to Michael – what a star!
Picture copyright belongs to Michael Conway!